Tre Jones, Vernon Carey Jr. Dominant as Duke Cruises Past Michigan State

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistDecember 4, 2019

Duke's Tre Jones, top, goes over Michigan State's Foster Loyer for a layup during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)
Al Goldis/Associated Press

Duke added another big win to its resume with an 87-75 victory over Michigan State in a battle of former No. 1-ranked teams.

Vernon Carey Jr. and Tre Jones each tallied a double-double to carry the Blue Devils (8-1) Tuesday at the Breslin Center. Though it was the team's first true road game of the year, the squad was unstoppable offensively and held a double-digit lead for nearly the entire second half of what became an easy victory.

Despite a shocking loss to Stephen F. Austin last week, Duke has already put together a strong start to 2019-20 with wins over Kansas and Michigan State.

The Spartans (5-3) haven't been able to live up to lofty expectations coming into the year, suffering another loss as Cassius Winston was held to 12 points on 4-of-14 shooting.


Notable Stats

  • Cassius Winston, G, Michigan State: 12 points, 7 assists
  • Xavier Tillman, F, Michigan State: 20 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks
  • Aaron Henry, F, Michigan State: 2 points, 2 rebounds
  • Vernon Carey Jr., C, Duke: 26 points, 11 rebounds, 3 blocks
  • Tre Jones, G, Duke: 20 points, 12 assists, 3 steals
  • Javin DeLaurier, F, Duke: 10 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals


Vernon Carey Jr. Takes Over in Post for Duke

In a game with several high-profile players, Carey was clearly the best player on the floor.

The freshman got a lot of hate from the opposing fans after picking Duke over Michigan State, but it didn't seem to bother him on the court. He was unstoppable in the first half while helping the Blue Devils build a 16-point lead on the road:

Brendan Marks @BrendanRMarks

Vernon Carey's first half: 15 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks. More points than minutes. The man can't be guarded. Duke leads 45-29 at the break.

Larry Lage @LarryLage

Duke freshman center Vernon Carey has been the best player on the court so far, scoring 10 rebounds, grabbing seven rebounds and blocking two shots, including one recently after defending ball screen 20 feet from rim.

Duke continued to feed him in the second half, and it led to continued production in the post.

Rob Dauster @RobDauster

Michigan State might want to do something other than guard Vernon Carey 1-on-1 in the paint. He has *checks notes* 21 points with 16 minutes left. I don’t think it’s working.

Spartan Avenue @SpartanAvenueFS

Nobody can stop Carey

There were simply no players or combinations of players that could defend the big man.

The effort on this type of stage should be able to boost his draft stock, which hasn't been as high as you might expect.

Seth Davis @SethDavisHoops

All these mock drafts have Carey going late in the first round. What am I missing?

Jay King @ByJayKing

Vernon Carey doesn’t get as much buzz as some other college prospects, at least from what I’ve seen, but he’s really damn good.

Jones was impressive as well, getting it done on both ends of the court.

ESPN @espn

Tre Jones landed with his foot on his chest 😳 https://t.co/cxtXynskvW

Javin DeLaurier and Joey Baker also provided valuable depth off the bench with Cassius Stanley out with a hamstring injury.

Still, Carey sent a message to the rest of the country Tuesday that he will be a force all year long.


Sloppy Performance Dooms Michigan State

Regardless of who is on the floor, fans have come to expect Michigan State to provide sound basketball and solid defense year after year. Neither was on display against Duke.

Kyle Rowland @KyleRowland

It's only December, but Michigan State looks rough. Been out of sorts most of the season.

Fran Fraschilla @franfraschilla

Anybody who’s ever played in Maui knows that there’s at least a five day recovery. Feels like Spartans are playing in quicksand.

The offense was a problem in the first half, turning the ball over eight times with many of those going the other way for easy baskets. Duke blocked seven shots in the first 20 minutes, which is even more embarrassing considering the Spartans only had 10 made field goals.

There were some signs of life on that end in the second half, with Winston coming alive:

Big Ten Network @BigTenNetwork

Sparty's surging... @MSU_Basketball is making a second-half run against Duke behind buckets from @cassiuswinston: https://t.co/CvG9es9jer

Xavier Tillman also scored 14 of his 20 points after intermission.

Unfortunately, a comeback never materialized because the defense remained an issue. Not only did Carey get whatever he wanted inside, but Michigan State also allowed easy entry passes and open looks in the post all game.

It led to 56.1 percent shooting from Duke, including 7-of-15 from three-point range.

If the Spartans are going to reach expectations this season, they will need to be a lot more disciplined on both ends of the court.


What's Next?

Duke will begin ACC play with a trip to Virginia Tech on Friday, trying to end a three-game losing streak in Cassell Coliseum. Michigan State will host Rutgers on Sunday in its first Big Ten game of the season.